Middle East

12 children killed in ‘bloodiest of days’ in northwest Syria

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In the province of Idlib, Syria's last major opposition bastion, airstrikes ripped through two marketplaces, killing at least nine people in Maarat al-Numan and nearby Saraqeb, said a volunteer rescue group known as the White Helmets.At least four of the dead in the attack on Maarat al-Numan were children, according to the Syrian American Medical Society.Footage released by the White Helmets showed members carrying bodies away from the scene in the town of Maarat al-Numan, where lettuce and onions were strewn on the blood-stained ground.Another video from the same town shared by the White Helmets pictured a young girl, her face covered in blood, crying next to her brother and calling for their father. "Please tell me my dad is still alive, please be alive my dad," she says.CNN could not independently verify the authenticity of these videos. The White Helmets rescue group blamed the attack on the government of embattled Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, which routinely carries out airstrikes in the area with Russia's help. The Syrian government in the past has said they are targeting terrorists in Idlib, where its forces are pushing to retake the country's few remaining opposition holdouts.

Hours later, a separate attack

Hours after the strikes in Idlib, a separate attack killed eight more children and two others in another market in the town of Tal Rifaat in the neighboring province, according to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). At least eight additional children were injured, according to UNICEF. The UN children's agency said it was "shocked and saddened" by the reported deaths. Monday's attacks bring the number of children killed in northern Syria to at least 34 over just the past four weeks, UNICEF said. Hassan Hassan, a resident of Tal Rifaat, told CNN that Monday's attack hit a local market where children had been playing. He said that many of those killed and injured were Kurds displaced from Afrin after Turkey's assault there in 2018.And Ibrahim Sheikho, a spokesperson for a local rights group called Human Rights of Afrin, told CNN that the eight children killed in the attack were between three and 15 years old. He said that he expected the death toll to rRead More – Source